Journal Article

Heat Stress: an Inducer of Programmed Cell Death in <i>Chlorella saccharophila</i>

Anna Zuppini, Carlo Andreoli and Barbara Baldan

in Plant and Cell Physiology

Published on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists

Volume 48, issue 7, pages 1000-1009
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 0032-0781
Published online July 2007 | e-ISSN: 1471-9053 | DOI:
Heat Stress: an Inducer of Programmed Cell Death in Chlorella saccharophila

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  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Programmed cell death (PCD) has been recognized as a fundamental cellular process conserved in metazoans, plants and yeast. However, the cellular mechanisms leading to PCD have not been fully elucidated in unicellular organisms. Evidence is presented that heat stress induces PCD in Chlorella saccharophila cells. Our results demonstrate that heat shock triggers a PCD pathway occurring with characteristics features such as chromatin condensation, DNA fragmentation, cell shrinkage and detachment of the plasma membrane from the cell wall, and suggest the presence of caspase 3-like activity. The caspase 3 inhibitor Ac-DEVD-CHO gave significant protection against heat shock-induced cell death. Moreover, a reduction in photosynthetic pigment contents associated with alteration of chloroplast morphology and a fairly rapid disappearance of the ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase large subunit and the light-harvesting complex of PSII have been observed. The timing of events in the signaling cascade associated with the C. saccharophila heat shock PCD response is discussed. Insights into this field may have general implications for understanding the pathway of cell death in unicellular green algae.

Keywords: Caspase 3-like; Chlorella saccharophila; Chloroplast; Heat stress; Programmed cell death

Journal Article.  6011 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biochemistry ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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